Posted: February 17th, 2022

Centre for Women and Democracy.









To what extent is gender a relevant force in understanding contemporary British politics? 









This study aims to establish the connection between the people’s gender and the occurring political scene. Research in gender and politics has been conducted to see how one’s gender may improve or impede one’s political participation and even arguably how a male or female idea may shape a political institution. We set out to take an in-depth look at some of the advantages and power men have in contemporary British politics compared to women. Feminists and their supporters have fiercely discriminated against this issue. 

Gender parity in Britain has been a topic of debate since the early 19th century (Krook, 2013); a central concern, however, is the exclusion and under-representation of women in the political scene. In the 1980s and 1990s, many governments and political parties came under serious pressure to affirm measures such as the gender candidate quotas to try and curb the political under-representation of women; sadly, British politics remain to be highly “male-dominated” (Chiva, 2017). However, since then, there has been a steady increase in women’s representation in the house of commons due to efforts put in to encourage women’s participation in politics by political parties and parliament. One measure that the UK adopted was the 2002 sex discrimination act, which gave political parties access to shortlists containing only women in the candidate selection for elections. The act further opened doors for women to create political parties that solemnly included women, such as the Women’s Equality Party, founded in 2015. The party’s goal is to create an equal representation of women in politics as well as other walks of life, and even though this is still far-fetched, Great Britain has put in measures to see to the accomplishment of gender parity in its borders. The nation prides itself ranking 5th highest women representation in parliament in the EU (Gender Equality Index 2019: United Kingdom, 2019).

General elections in Britain usually take place after every 5years. In the late 18th and early 19th century, Britain experienced a low female voter turn-out because women had no right to choose their leader of choice (Krook, 2013). In the 20th century, the policy was relaxed, which meant that any woman above 18 and a citizen of Britain could vote. Since then, polling stations have witnessed an almost equal number of men and female voters. The choice, however, on whether to vote for any one of the leading political parties has been majorly determined by feminist and women’s rights activists. With the two main parties in Britain being the conservative party and the labour party, the main derivative for choosing any one party by the voter is more leaned towards feminism and less towards gender (Hayes, 1997). Research conducted by analysts shows that individuals who adopt a pro-feminism attitude are less likely to vote for the conservative party than any other political party. Feminist men and women, as observed, are also more or less likely to vote for anyone particular party. So, it emerges that feminism in British society, as opposed to gender, is a key variable in determining a party choice (Hayes, 1997).

Political power and influence are still largely held and dominated by men. Many women are somehow intimidated to put themselves forward for election and the challenge that comes with it. The monetary cost of campaigning and juggling between political life and domestic life proves to be quite the challenge for most women. Combined with the fact that men continue to outnumber women by two to one, these challenges add more pressure to women (About Women’s Equality, 2016). The Centre for Women and Democracy (CFWD) report on leadership and diversity proved further that many women complained of the constant pressure over the years to conform to masculine patterns to become successful (CFWD, 2011). Further studies revealed that women’s unwillingness to join politics coupled with the hardship of being recruited by any political party due to their reluctance, often hesitant to accept any female willing to join for the first time. political party hindrance continues to be a driving force for the “male-dominated culture.”

More work is to be done to improve gender balance and equality in our British political scene. However, this is not to disregard the tremendous efforts by our government and individual groups to provide a suitable and harmonious environment for all regardless of gender. Feminist groups, as studied, in part have contributed several campaigns to support women that arguably seem to influence an individual decision on the support of a political party. Though this might look controversial for others, I think it provides the perfect platform for open-mindedness on one end and the other unity for those in unison with similar opinions.


Krook, M.L. and Norris, P., 2014. Beyond quotas: Strategies to promote gender equality in elected office. Political Studies62(1), pp.2-20.

Chiva, C., 2017. Gender, institutions and political representation: Reproducing male dominance in Europe’s new democracies. Springer.

Hayes, B.C., 1997. Gender, feminism and electoral behaviour in Britain. Electoral Studies16(2), pp.203-216.

Women’s Equality. 2016. About Women’s Equality. [online] Available at: <https://www.womensequality.org.uk/about> [Accessed 27 January 2022].

CFWD (2011) Unintended consequences: the impact of the government’s legislative programme on women in public roles, Leeds: Centre for Women and Democracy. https://www.cfwd.org.uk/uploads/ pdfs/UnintendedConsequencesFinal.pdf .

European Institute for Gender Equality. 2019. Gender Equality Index 2019: United Kingdom. [online] Available at: <https://eige.europa.eu/publications/gender-equality-index-2019-united-kingdom> [Accessed 27 January 2022].





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